February 8, 2018 by Dean Bellefeuille

Senior Parents

It is always best to tell the truth, right? Yet there are times when some truths are better left unsaid, or at least worded more positively, particularly when communicating with senior parents. While we may have the very best of intentions in attempting to help older adults navigate life, we can help alleviate problems with hurt feelings in our senior parents by rethinking statements such as the following:

  • Don’t you remember…? Short-term memory loss is actually quite common in older adults, and pointing it out so bluntly can be belittling. As an alternative, try non-verbal methods to help jog your loved one’s memory, such as strategically placing positive reminder notes throughout the house, like on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, TV remote, etc. If a verbal reminder would still be helpful, make sure to try to keep your tone light; and ask if the senior would like anyone to assist, such as in scheduling a medical appointment for her or getting a prescription.
  • You’re not trying hard enough. The fact is, many older adults develop physical or cognitive impairments that can make once-simple tasks extremely difficult. It’s equally important to not take control over tasks the individual may still do, but which may take a bit longer to do. Offering to serve as a partner in accomplishing a challenging task could be effective, such as asking the senior to take care of an element of the task while you tackle another part of the task.
  • I know; you already told me. It may be frustrating to listen to stories you’ve already heard before from a senior loved one; however, it’s important to stay patient and offer the older adult the respect you would want if the tables were turned.
  • When you die, am I able to have…? Nobody really wants to feel as if their possessions are of such value that others cannot wait to have their hands on them. If the person doesn’t have a will set up that describes his or her wishes, it is definitely smart to get that taken care of, but allow the person the freedom to select to whom his or her belongings ought to be given.
  • Wake up! Let go of any embarrassment you might have regarding your senior loved one dropping off to sleep in inappropriate times, like during a movie, a religious service, or a concert. Altered sleep patterns, prescription medication side effects, among other factors, make it hard for some seniors to sleep well during the nighttime.

Caring for senior parents is a stressful and challenging task, but our Syracuse home care experts and our Family Caregiver Training sessions can help you learn how to communicate better with older loved ones. To get more effective communication suggestions to help senior family members retain the dignity they deserve, contact us today at (315) 579-4663.